The restaurant: Wright Brothers, 26 Circus West Village, Battersea Power Station, London SW11 8NN
English oysters are the cheapest. Stretch any further to the Channel Islands, Ireland, and France and they’re a bit more expensive. Like wines you can judge them on the region, but remove the wine list and sometimes not be as confident naming where your drink has hailed from. I like to think I know wines, but couldn’t call out a Walney Island from a Île d’Oléron oyster. Unless you’re familiar with the salinity and mineral content of certain waters, you’ll just have to dive in and choose the name that sounds nicest — or hope that your server is an oyster-sommelier type. Carlingford oysters dressed with Virgin Mary sorbet and pickled daikon – yes, we picked the tangiest sounding ones. They were cool and sharp, and my first experience of oysters. Our server seemed horrified we’d plunged right under with the seaside Virgin Marys, so had some tempera oysters with sticky sweet miso delivered to our table. You can dress anything in batter and miso and make it magnificently tasty, so of course they were just that. Until I’ve passed the Wright Brother’s oyster masterclass, I won’t say more about the restaurant’s diverse selection; other than Wright Brothers supply oysters and seafood to 270 restaurants and chefs across the UK, so they’re certainly doing something right.
Once we’d argued over who could eat the most oysters in one sitting — only to be trumped by the server who steamed in with thirty — we moved onto the rest of the menu. Whether it’s a Wright Brothers quirk or something that’s insidiously seeping onto the London food scene, I don’t know but — to our horror — there was no distinction between starters and mains. So we argued over the how much a a clam, halibut or Galician octopus would be worth in real money before deciding our dishes.
Isle of Barra razor clams with chorizo was my choice of small plate or starter. Unlike oysters, you can’t just claim that they ‘taste like the sea’ and be done with it. Clams taste like clam, chewy and delicate. They’re not too salty or too fishy or too sweet, they just are. The razor clams piggybacked on the flavour of the Spanish sausage, and the clams felt somewhat lost amongst the chunks of chorizo. Anything from the ‘WB classics’, ‘Josper Charcoal Grill’ and ‘Meat’ is a main. They come in between £10-33, which is why we did so much weighing up as to whether we were ordering small plates or mains. Next I fretted that the pancetta would overpower the halibut fillet, but I ordered it anyway.
For £27, it was all about the halibut, there was no pretence of ‘dressing’ up the fish in pig’s clothing. The halibut arrived, elevated on a plain of kale and potatoes from a buttery moat, leaving it high, clean cut and clean tasting. Butter is one of those ingredients, you know it’s there —you need it to be there — but things can get too buttery. Fortunately, Wright Brothers got the measure just right. The smattering of paprika was immaterial, but the kale and potatoes were very nice. It was served with a dry and floral Chablis that should always be shacked up with the Scottish halibut — a fantastic combination.
Wright Brothers is a magnificent place to tap into London’s seafood scene. You’ll receive top notch service and an excellent standard of food and drink, without being overly indulgent or feeling faint when the bill arrives. With a brief oyster lesson thrown in, a dazzling view across the Thames, my evening at the Battersea restaurant is one that I hope to relive very soon.
The look: Marni patch pocket skirt (FatFetch) and Dolce & Gabbana off-the-shoulder poplin top (Net-A-Porter) with Giavnito Rossie colour-block satin sandals (Net-A-Porter), For Art’s Sake square tinted sunglasses (FarFetch), and Miu Miu textured leather and raffia shoulder bag (Net-A-Porter).
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